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Moulding young minds with ‘School Readiness’

5 Dec 2021 school readiness

A handbook for parents – School Readiness – helps them in getting their children ready for school by focusing on the simple things in life that have a lasting effect on young minds

Hubert Vaz

What do you do when your toddler refuses to share toys, or insists on eating meals himself/herself? How do you handle your infant’s experimentation with language or curiosity with things around?

There’s no need to ‘use the rod or spare the rod’ anymore. Using a little tact and a good measure of common sense can very well get you around tricky situations concerning your child’s nurturing. And for young parents in Oman, there’s more good news in the form of a newly published handbook – School Readiness – which provides step by st’ep insights into getting one’s child ready for school and life itself.

Nadia Sultan, an educational psychologist (EP) who has nearly two decades of experience in this field and has practised as an EP in the UK for 13 years, compiled this handbook along with Dr Chitra Sankar, a developmental paediatrician with 20 years of experience who is equally passionate about child development issues. The book is aptly illustrated by All al Lawati, content creator at Eunoia Clinic in Oman.

“The idea for our book was born very much out of a need which was arising during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Schools and nurseries were forced to shut their doors and many parents found themselves having to play many different roles in the confines of their own homes. We were being contacted by parents and educators who wanted ideas on what to do with their young children at home,” said Nadia, adding that she and Dr Chitra, who were friends and neighbours, took on this project as a way of using their own time productively to collectively address this issue.
“We both have many years of experience professionally, but we are also mothers ourselves and we also work very closely with parents as part of our profession. I also work very closely with schools as part of my role as an educational psychologist, so I am aware of what school expectations are in terms of their requirements, particularly in the private schools,” Nadia explained.
Both the ladies took on the project in all earnestness, discussed the content and developed it as a collaborative effort. They worked on it together over Zoom meetings when unable to leave their homes, and then in person, when that was possible, despite being in different time zones when Dr Chitra chose to leave Oman.
“It was definitely challenging at times, but very rewarding as well, and we both learnt a lot from the process,” Nadia said, adding that they had two parents review the book, besides seeking guidelines from various professionals from schools in Oman .
School Readiness was initially circulated among friends and acquaintance and the feedback received from parents and professionals has been very positive till date as it covered most of the common fears, concerns and dilemmas faced by young parents while bringing up their children.
“The book is aimed at ‘parents’ irrespective of ‘mother’ or ‘father’. In fact, we could have included carers, guardians, grandparents, early years educators and other professionals as well into that. We wrote it using simple language throughout so that it’s easy to follow and understand,” she said, adding that it contains checklists and tables, besides ideas for activities, and illustrations showing samples of healthy snacks, good sleep hygiene, etc.
Asked whether there could be need for a second edition of School Readiness, with additional information, Nadia said, “There can always be more. This was our first collaboration over this topic and we both enjoyed working together and learning from each other. We could think of many other topics to include such as behaviour management, for example. We also could easily expand the content in each of the sections because there are many things one could say about each of the sections. In this attempt, we tried to keep it brief and simple.”
The book is intended to address issues concerning children in the age group between 30-48 months, though some information is applicable to older children, as well.
The authors hope to have translated versions of the book in Arabic and Hindi in future, while they are currently focusing on marketing it so that a maximum number of young parents can benefit from it. Dr Chitra has been popularising the book in India, where she currently lives, while Nadia is doing the same in Oman.

(To order a copy of the book, call: 99202186)

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